Civic Design is an interdisciplinary, project-based course at Stanford

This webpage has resources for Spring 2022 students & others interested in Civic Design.

The class link for Civic Design is here.

Find a list of resources, case studies, and readings.

What is the Civic Design course about?

Our class is an interdisciplinary, project-based class in which students will learn civic design methodologies to address real-world, local civic challenges.

How can we use participatory design strategies and interventions to address civic challenges at scale and support resilient cities and communities?

Planners, policymakers, courts, and designers are exhorted to “involve the public” in decision-making, but how can this aspiration be made a reality? We will explore methods and case studies of how participatory design can be used to support better communities. 

Our design work will focus on local city’s challenges around building cities that are lively, equitable, safe, and diverse.

How can we garner more community input to shape the civic processes driving stable housing, legal protections, climate resilience, and equitable access to public services? How can we facilitate productive dialogue and pair strategy with meaningful interventions? How can we create culture-shifts in how people interact with government agencies and policymakers?

Students will work on a civic design project with a real-world stakeholder, to explore how to apply these methods and case studies. We explore how to go beyond “performative” outreach to move toward genuine community involvement that enhances democracy, justice, and the public interest.

Latest Blog Posts from the class

What are the Course Objectives?

Students in the class will learn the following skills over the quarter:

+ Introduce a range of challenges that cities face today, related to urban governance: housing, legal protection, resilient infrastructure, public works, and equitable access to municipal services.

+ Explore the ethos of participatory design, including its roots in democratic decision-making, the politics of consent, and human rights discourse.

+ Recognize how participatory approaches can aid local government in addressing civic challenges, drawing on domestic and international case studies, and expert guest lectures.

+ Practice core design skills, including need-finding, prototyping and testing, in the context of civic challenges.

+ Learn to collaborate effectively with a community partner: assess and articulate their needs, maintain clear lines of communication, and devise outputs that address their specific needs.

+ Critique “design thinking” methodology, including both its utility and its limits, when applied to problems of urban development.